Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns for the second time this season in which the result could have a huge say in the title race.
The Catalan club are the form team in La Liga currently with 13 wins from their last 14 (1 draw) and unbeaten in their last 18 since a surprise 1-2 loss at Cadiz to start December. Their form has changed drastically since a 1-3 loss at home in the first El Clasico of 2020-21.
Zinedine Zidane’s side were in action on Tuesday night when they beat Liverpool 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie versus the English champions.
Barcelona will only have had 24 hours’ additional rest since their last La Liga outing, which was a late 1-0 win over 10-man Real Valladolid at Camp Nou.
It’s the visitors to the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano who head into the match as the bookmakers’ favourites with a price of 13/10. With no odds on favourite you may prefer to use a bonus code to back either side. Either way, you can get a good price on both teams.
Odds are 2/1 on Real Madrid picking up three points on Saturday night. Anything less and they may be out of the title race. They currently trail Atletico Madrid by three points and there will only be eight games remaining after this weekend.
Whereas a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world for Barcelona, who head into the weekend one point behind the leaders and are still to host Diego Simeone’s side in May.
Real Madrid are hindered greatly in defence with both starting centre-backs, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, ruled out of this huge clash.
Lucas Vazquez played right-back in a back four in Tuesday’s win over Liverpool, whereas Real Madrid had been testing out a back three previously. One would expect Zidane to go with four at the back again this weekend given the attacking threat Barcelona offer.
Although Lionel Messi looked off his game in his last outing you can expect the Argentine superstar to bounce back in this one, unless Zidane’s side do an impeccable man marking job on him. Casemiro could be the man ordered to do that, particularly with Toni Kroos doubtful. Aside from a quiet game on Monday night, Messi has been the best player in La Liga since January.
Barcelona’s injury list isn’t as concerning. Although Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati continue to be sidelined, Koeman still has a front free of Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele available.
The one concern they may have would be if Gerard Pique isn’t fit to return, but reports suggest the centre-back will be. Barcelona have been playing a back three in recent weeks with Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong being stalwarts.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Lucas Vazquez, Eder Militao, Nacho, Ferland Mendy; Casemiro, Luka Modric, Federico Valverde; Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior
Barcelona (3-4-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique; Sergino Dest, Sergi Busquets, Pedri, Jordi Alba; Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembele
The form book and odds both suggest a tight match on Saturday night but we’re going to lean with Barcelona in this one. The additional rest, Real Madrid’s key injuries, and Messi all work in the visitors’ favour.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona